EVANSTON — Evanston’s Sierra Clayborn is in the midst of a dilemma.
The senior guard on the girls basketball team has been dealing with plantar fasciitis in her right foot since right after the Wildkits played Oak Park-River Forest on Jan. 21. The pain is considerable, and Clayborn was told she’s in control of how much the injury heals.
She can continue playing if she can deal with the discomfort, yet the fastest way for it to fully mend is for her to forgo the rest of the season.
“I’m actually not supposed to be playing that much,” Clayborn said. “But I don’t believe in sitting down because of pain.”
Evanston coach Elliot Whitefield said Clayborn hardly practiced in the week leading up to the Wildkits’ 23-20 win over Maine South on Friday.
Clayborn was able to play most of the game against the Hawks, however, thanks partly to the exercises she’s done while dealing with the injury. Clayborn has sustained her conditioning by riding a stationary bike and she has done everything from shockwave therapy to picking up marbles with her toes to help ease the pain in her foot slightly.
Those things have helped, she said, but Whitefield can sense that the plantar fasciitis has affected the way she plays.
Clayborn’s “lift is a little bit different. She’s not really finishing as high as she usually does,” Whitefield said. “I think it affects her shot with her balance, especially on pull-up jump shots. I know that that’s probably the most painful.”
The injury also changed his substitution patterns.
“After running back and forth after a while, I can’t jump. That’s why he kept subbing me out [quickly] for moments, because I couldn’t jump,” Clayborn said after she scored six points against Maine South. “After a while I can’t run either.”
Whitefield didn’t play Clayborn in the Wildkits’ 54-48 loss to Grayslake North on Monday and Evanston (18-7) wraps up its regular season by hosting Waukegan on Friday. Whitefield said he’s considering starting Clayborn on senior night, keeping her in the game for a few minutes and then taking her out to rest her foot for the remainder of the evening.
The goal, at this point in the season, is to make sure she’s feeling the best she can at the start of the postseason.
“I think I’m going to be ready.” Clayborn said.
The Wildkits, who earned the No. 2 seed in the Class 4A Maine East Sectional, begin postseason play at 6 p.m. Feb. 20. They will play No. 15 Glenbrook North or No. 18 Amundsen in a semifinal of the Resurrection Regional.